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Orson Welles Collection

Campbell Playhouse

FIRST BROADCAST: 9th December 1938 LAST BROADCAST: 13th June 1941 CAST: Orson Welles and Mercury Players: Ray Collins, Agnes Moorehead, George Coulouris, Frank Readick, Georgia Backus, Bea Benaderet, Everett Sloane, Edgar Barrier, etc. Major film and stage stars (Humphrey Bogart, Frederic March, Mary Astor, Jeanette MacDonald) in adaptations. ANNOUNCERS: Niles Welch, Ernest Chappell, Del Sharbutt MUSIC: Bernard Herrmann PRODUCER: John Houseman DIRECTOR: Orson Welles

Mercury Theatre – 1938

This radio series was probably more famed for its broadcast of “War of the Worlds”, perhaps the most famous program ever broadcast in the history of radio. The stories were simulated news broadcasts and on-the-spot reports. With “War of the Worlds” many people were deceived by the realistic news bulletins and the show caused a nationwide sensation. 6 million people had listened to the show: 1.7 million had believed it to be authentic news and 1.2 million had been genuinely frightened!

Harry Lime (The 3rd Man)

The Third Man, aka Life Of Harry Lime...

The Third Man (The Lives of Harry Lime) was a old-time radio adventure series that ran in 1951 and 1952. It was based on the 1949 film of the same name.Orson Welles stars as Harry Lime, a perpetually broke confidence man, smuggler, and general scoundrel. He will participate in virtually any criminal activity to make a fast buck, but uses his wits rather than a gun. He draws the line short of murder, blackmail, or drugs.Even so, Harry is an endearing character and listeners love to hear of his one-step-ahead-of-the-law misadventures as he hops around the globe looking for his next pigeon.

The Black Museum

The Black Museum was a "Towers of London" production broadcast over Radio Luxembourg in 1951. It was syndicated for broadcast in the States in 1952. Hosted by Orson Welles, we are given a tour of Scotland Yard's "Museum of Murder".

There were 2 primary openings for the show, with minor differences the wording:

Show Opening
This is Orson Welles, speaking from London [Big Ben sounds].
The Black
Museum. A Repository of Death. Here in the grim stone structure on the Thames which houses Scotland Yard is a warehouse of homicide, where every day objects -  all are touched by murder.

Story Introduction
Announcer: From the annals of the criminal investigation department of the London Police, we bring you the dramatic stories of the crimes recorded by the objects in Scotland Yard's Gallery of Death -- The Black Museum

The Shadow

Pulp magazine publisher Street and Smith decided that instead of advertising their magazines on newsstands, they would try something new: radio. In 1930, they sponsored a weekly show called the Detective Story Hour featuring adaptations of mystery stories from their magazine of the same name. The shows were first announced, then later narrated by a strange and shadowy figure named - appropriately - The Shadow. The voice was done by James La Curto, and later Frank Readick Jr.

Much to Street and Smith's amazement, it was the narrator that became more popular than the show. Audiences were requesting for "that Shadow Detective Magazine". Walter B. Gibson was soon hired to write what would become one of the most successful pulp novel series in the 1930s and 1940s. In the meantime, The Shadow remained a narrator for other radio shows such as Blue Coal Radio Revue and Love Story Hour (another Street and Smith magazine) during 1931-1932. During 1932, he had gotten his own show, but still remained a narrator.

In 1937, the fourth season of The Shadow radio show featured a 22-year-old actor named Orson Welles, who would later scare the country with his Mercury Theater radio adaptation of H. G. Well's The War of The Worlds. He would leave the role in 1938 to pursue an acting and directing career.

The title character was given the power to "cloud men's minds so they cannot see him". This was at odds with the pulp novel character, who used stealth, a pair of .45s, and the occasional magic trick. Another difference was that The Shadow's alter ego was Lamont Cranston, though fans knew otherwise that he was really Kent Allard. The radio Lamont was given a leading lady, named Margo Lane (played by Agnes Moorehead), who knew the true identity of The Shadow. The Lamont in the pulp had none; in fact Margo didn't appear in the pulps until a few years later. Nevertheless, the show proved just as popular as the pulp series.

Many actors and actresses would assume the roles of The Shadow/Lamont Cranston, and Margo Lane over the years. The main ones were: Orson Welles (1937-1938), Bill Johnstone (1938-1943), John Archer (1944-1945), Bret Morrison (1943-1944, 1945-1954), Agnes Moorehead (1937-1940), Majorie Anderson (1940-1944), Grace Matthews (1946-1949), and Gertrude Warner (1949-1954). Other actors to play the roles included Kenny Delmar, Steve Courtleigh, Margot Stevenson, Margot Anderson, Jeanette Nolan, Marion Sharkley, Laura Mae Carpenter, and Lesley Woods.

The show ran for 21 seasons in total, and was broadcast across the United States and some parts of Canada via the Mutual Network. Depending on the region of the country, there were different sponsors for the show. For example, Blue Coal sponsored the show over the East Coast radio stations. Children eagerly listened in as the sponsors gave away prizes such as glow-in-the-dark rings. Today, these are now prized collector's items.

 

 

Show # of Shows Cost  
Orson Welles 1 49 $7
Orson Welles 2 107 $7
Orson Welles 3 89 $7
Orson Welles Collection complete + The Shadow 462 $20

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